Extraordinary Realities examines the career of Shahzia Sikander during her prolific first 15 years. Paintings, drawings, and video animations show how the Pakistani American artist explores contemporary issues by transforming and subverting South and Central Asian illustrated manuscript painting.
Born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1969, Sikander was an artist in the Core Residency Program at the MFAH Glassell School of Art from 1995 to 1997. She is now internationally celebrated for bringing manuscript painting traditions into dialogue with contemporary art practice.
Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities brings together nearly 60 of Sikander’s works, from public and private collections. The presentation tracks her groundbreaking deconstruction of manuscript painting in Pakistan; development of a new personal vocabulary in her graduate years at the Rhode Island School of Design; expanded explorations around identity at the Glassell School; and global approach during her first years in New York. Throughout that time, she richly interrogated gender, sexuality, race, class, and history, creating open-ended narratives that have sustained her as one of the most significant artists working today.
Sikander’s vibrant synthesis of traditional and contemporary art has played a critical role in recognizing a wider range of perspectives, including those of women, people of color, Muslims, and artists working outside the United States and Europe.